In Innovation Spotlight, we explore some of the most promising innovations from around our community. This week, we take a look at Oasis HUB who are making models, data, software, tools and services affordable, accessible and transparent in order to close the gap between insured and uninsured losses when disasters strike.
Extreme weather and catastrophes are increasing in the face of climate change. According to Swiss Re, economic losses to property and infrastructure from natural disasters averaged $180 billion annually in the last decade, 70 per cent of which are uninsured. To deal with this, the insurance industry needs a clear understanding of rising climate-related and natural hazard risk to help it allocate capital, meet regulatory requirements and price risk in specific regions.
The Oasis HUB is a newly launched platform — backed by EIT Climate-KIC — that aims to reduce the gap between insured and uninsured losses when natural catastrophes strike. By making models, data, software, tools and services affordable, accessible and transparent, the Oasis HUB offers the insurance sector improved understanding of future uncertainty around climate change and natural hazards.
We spoke to Dickie Whitaker, Oasis HUB CEO to find out how this new marketplace will help the insurance industry, national and city governments adapt to the impacts of climate change.
What is the catastrophe risk modelling, data and information used for?
The main function is for the insurance and reinsurance industry, which needs to the best ways to understand the frequency and severity of natural catastrophes and extreme events. If you’re trying to protect infrastructure in cities, you need to understand how high you build something like a dam.
Essentially, this analysis uses the same information that informs decisions in the insurance industry. Other people round the world could be using the same tools and techniques, as they fundamentally have the same questions, and this is what we’re trying to stimulate.
Why should national and city governments use the Oasis data hub?
Oasis isn’t really used at the moment by cities or governments. What they’re currently doing is building some of the components that we make available for free. If you’re building the Thames barrier, you’re not going to think twice spending half a million on checking about whether it’s going to be high enough.
You’re not going to do the same thing if you’re looking at a group of twenty houses in the catchment of a river in the middle of nowhere. Different types of data are being used in different circumstances. People should be asking questions about what technology to use to answer these questions, what tools should they use and what methods. That’s generally not happening. The insurance industry is the only one using these catastrophe models. Cities and governments rarely do.
Every national institution has a data centre. They’re not always well signposted; they rarely have good search engines; and they often don’t have the data in the useful format. Oasis HUB pushes people to places that have the data, where you can check its suitability for your use, licence or buy it, and then download it. There’s over 200 data sets right now, on a range of things from landslides, to imagery of the sea bed, to wind-storm information from the UK Met Office.
What is your plan to grow the data marketplace?
Subsequent phases will expand to other sectors very quickly, partly because again everybody wants the same information and data. It’s not like we have the unique need for this innovation — loads of people need it. Over time, we’ll get to the stage where people are encouraged to put data on the service themselves — we encourage the collaboration. It will go from a push to a pull strategy, where it’s self-sustaining and keeps going by itself.
Then it’s just a case of us managing the software and the process. The plan is to get it to full capacity in a little bit longer than a year, with a three to five year plan to become the Amazon of data. Regardless of business needing to be more efficient, more effective, make more money, or society wanting to solve some problems, the only way we’re going to achieve that in this complex area, particularly around climate, is by collaboration.
You can visit the online portal/marketplace for the publishing and purchasing of environmental and climate risk data, adaptation planning tools, models and services at https://oasishub.co.